Research has repeatedly proven that regular maintenance of uninterruptible power systems (UPSs) is one of the most successful and cost-effective tactics to ensuring their ongoing optimal performance. For optimal results, be advised of the following 10 certainties when it comes to your service approach:
1. UPS components will eventually fail. Yes, even the highest quality UPS operating at the optimal temperature in an environment with perfectly clean power will nonetheless fail at some point. All UPSs have certain finite components — such as batteries, capacitors and fans — that simply wear out from normal use. That’s why…
2. You need to schedule maintenance. And by schedule, we mean put it in ink, on the calendar, well in advance. Studies have shown that the mean time between failures (MTBF) is more than 20 times better for UPSs that receive preventive maintenance (PM) twice a year compared to those that don’t. Yet PMs can’t be left to chance, especially considering the potential costs of downtime. Sticking to a predetermined timetable of regular maintenance activities helps ensure your UPS will perform as expected when you need it most (to find out exactly what should be completed on a quarterly, semi-annual and annual basis, be sure to check out our next blog).
3. Preventive maintenance improves ROI. Regular, pre-scheduled UPS maintenance can easily pay for itself by preventing unplanned downtime events. This can be attributed to the fact that a trained technician has the ability to detect and repair a plethora of issues — from battery or capacitor failures to clogged air filters to outdated firmware — before they become significant and costly issues.
4. Batteries require their own care. As the most vulnerable part of a UPS, batteries are among the leading causes of load loss. Understanding how to properly maintain and manage UPS batteries will not only help extend their overall service life, but also reduce costly downtime (we have an upcoming blog covering this topic, as well!).
5. It’s always safety first. When it comes to electrical power, one teeny blooper can result in serious injury or even death. With that in mind, it’s critical that safety remains your No. 1 priority when performing any type of service on a UPS. Be sure to observe all manufacturer recommendations, pay close attention to your facility’s implementation details, and always adhere to standard safety guidelines.
6. You don’t have to be a UPS whiz. Many, if not most, aspects of UPS maintenance are best left to those who are intimately familiar with the devices. For instance, considering that the voltage inside a UPS system registers at a lethal level, it is completely understandable (and justified) to allocate funds for a professional service organization. Don’t risk lives.
7. Know who you’re going to call. If a UPS problem does arise, quick response can mean the difference between inconvenience and disaster. During an emergency, don’t be left scrambling to find a service technician. Instead, right now, while everything is still performing perfectly, identify a reputable service provider that will be available when you need them — even if that ends up being two in the morning. Keep all numbers for maintenance and repair in a readily accessible, well-known location.
8. Stop, look and listen. Even if you leave primary UPS maintenance up to the professionals, you can still complete basic inspections yourself. For example, regularly examine the area around the UPS to make sure there are no obstructions or operating warnings on the panel. Visually inspect the batteries for signs of corrosion or other defects, and keep your ears pealed for any unusual rattling or other sounds coming from the UPS.
9. Retain records. Be sure to maintain records of all maintenance performed on the UPS, including cleanings, repairs and replacements. This documentation can help down the line when planning for equipment replacement, additional maintenance needs, or troubleshooting if an issue arises. Just like your contact numbers, keep records in a handy spot.
10. Don’t throw away your UPS documentation. It’s always wise to consult the manufacturer’s documentation for recommendations for your specific unit. This paperwork is also likely to include an overview of the type of maintenance that should be performed on the UPS at specific intervals. Consider these guidelines to be the minimum approach; when it comes to UPS preventive maintenance, more is always better.